Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 143 - North Rocks

Date: 11/20/12
Location: Costa de Oro, Costa Rica

Word of the day:
Turtle Fact: Most Sea Turtles are nomads and travel about 1,300 miles a day! Leatherback Sea Turtles have the longest migration of all Sea Turtles.

Wake up 6am. Breakfast (oatmeal). Morning check along beach.

Today's adventure is to head to the the large rocks on the north end of San Miguel and explore what creatures and geographic forms may be existing. So after my walk to the north for the morning patrol, I continue on heading to San Miguel.

I reach the estuary just as it hits high tide. Knowing this, I am semi prepared to ford the river with my backpack and belongings (including some technology - digital camera and GoPro). Never really crossing the estuary before at high tide, I certainly under estimated the depth at which this river can get. Holding my bag above my head, I make my first attempt across. Nope - that't not going to work. As I make it a third of a way across the water, I loose my footing as there is a drop-off that is above my head. As I was not able to tread water holding my backpack above my head, I backpedal in a panic state until my head is back above water, all the while, keeping my bag above the water, barely.

At this point I realize the river was going to be way to deep for me to cross alone. I am going to need some assistance. Immediately I search for large driftwood. I decide on building a small raft, that would float enough for my belongings as I swim across. I luckily am able to find some pieces within a short walking distance, along with a piece of large styrofoam - perfect. Using a small bundle of rope I have in my backpack (you can always use rope) I quickly fasten my findings together and give it a test float. It works! To my surprise, it was very buoyant and kept my bag out of the water. After battling a couple of incoming waves and a strong outward current, I make it across. Great success for only being 7am.

I continue walking north along San Miguel's beach and make it to their house by 8am. I first meet Scott, a new volunteer from Vancouver as he heads out for a morning run. I then enjoy some coffee with Emilie (volunteer from FL) until the rest of the house wakes up. Since I had to "waste" some time until 11am, until the tide came back down, I decided to perform my culinary duty and make them breakfast! Semi mind tricking them into it, I make egg-bread-hole with potatoes. After blowing up their taste buds with an awesome meal, I take some video around the camp until it's time to go.

Scott, Emilie, Hillary (assistant research assistant from Vancouver) and I head out and walk north along the beach until we reach the rocks an hour later. Even though I had lived at San Miguel for almost a month, I had never made the journey this far north. Perhaps I was too consumed with everything and being new to this project, I wanted to make sure I was comfortable with my surroundings before venture out.

Once we get there, we climb over and down several structures of rock. There was a couple small caves, but nothing like the size and diversity of life I had seen to the south a week prior. We get to a point where it was very steep and slipper to climb down. This would end up being the turning point for the crew, as it would be difficult to climb back up with the type of shoes they were wearing. Plus, they had to start turning around as they have to back by 1pm for lunch.

So I continue on with my my GoPro in hand chasing around crabs and snails. I eventually get to a place, where the vertical side of this hill, meets the water and it would be very difficult to walk along. Granted if I had a someone else with me, that would edge me along, I would have attempted. However, I was solo trekking and new it to be a poor decision if I was to venture on.

I head back to San Miguel, where I make myself some Ramen Noodles for lunch, that I had brought along. After gaining some energy and hydration, I walk back to my house. This time the estuary was easy to cross and only knee deep.

Back at the house I unpack my things and clean a little in the backyard. Courtney and Kayla exhume some nests, which bring locals out to the beach, while simultaneously releasing the babies found in that nest during the sunset.

Dinner. Patrol. I walk to the South alone. I come across a some old turtle tracks that are long in width that leads to a massive creater in the ground. Is this a Leatherback nest? After examining the area for a while I could not tell for sure. There were many footprints all along the turtles tracks. The nest bed was completely dug up in a 6'x6'x3' hole. Did a human make this hole larger than the turtle initially did? I will have to re-investigate tomorrow, in the day light. I continue on to find a turtle just about finishing up laying her eggs. I am able to tag her and grab her measurements before she walked back into the ocean. As for the nest bed, I did a thorough job of covering it. After sweeping the entire area with palm fronds, I cover the actual nest bed with a couple pieces of palm fronds and drift wood. I continue to make a fake nest with all the distinguishing features that looked like someone had previously gathered all the eggs. Eggs saved/hidden successfully (which was also confirmed the following day)


Lesson: Gotta know when hold'em, know when to folde'em...

Food: Ramen Noodles (off brand) - Given to me from a care package from one of my Brothers, I enjoy this simple comfort food.
Animals: Dogs, Birds, Spiders, Flies, Ants, Crabs, Mosquitoes, crabs, minnows, sea urchin, sea snails

Something I am thankful for: My closed toed sandals. Granted they are breaking down fairly quickly (for only having them 5 months), I have been able to traverse many a landscape in them, without the need to change into something different.
Something I don't want to admit: I saw boobies... on the way walking to the north rocks, there was a group of Europeans (I could only imagine) enjoying themselves on the beach playing Frisbee, topless. That's a first for Costa Rica, for me.

Total Nest I have saved: 48
Total Nests Poached on my Patrol:46
Total Turtle Eggs I saved: 5102
Total Baby Turtles I Released: 1,095

Days of Rain: 87/139

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